Downward Facing Dog Pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose

Hi everyone!

I want to talk about the downward facing dog pose. This could be easily one of the most known poses and one of the more challenging every day pose to do properly.

I want to talk about some benefits downward facing dog on your body, tips to get into your perfect dog and common mistakes people do while in downward dog.

I always find it insane how much I relax into downward dog compared to when I start my practice to when I end my practice.

My body and legs are usually quite tight, and my ankles crack at the beginning and by the end of the class it feels so comfortable and I yearn for the extra stretch!

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section at the end of this article. Please share your thoughts, tips or questions!

Also, if you stick around until the end I will give you a link to get your yoga journey started right.


Benefits of Downward Facing Dog

There are so many benefits of downward facing dog pose. I will break it down by strength and stretch.Benefits of Downward Dog

Strength

Hello, arms! You are holding yourself up with those bad boys. You definitely won’t feel a ‘burn’ when in this pose but it does take part in the strengthening of your arms.

You build strength in your legs too! Although they are really being stretched here, you do build strength in your legs & glutes.

In your back. When you are active in the pose it’s your back muscles keeping your shoulders back and neck in line.

Stretch

Stretching out the back of your legs. One in this pose, your heels will want to sink lower (with your breath & experience this will happen) so you really do feel it in your legs and it’s nice and juicy.

You will also feel it in your back when you are settled into this pose correctly.

Tips For The Perfect Dog

Downward dog

There a few things to practice when getting yourself into that perfect downward facing dog yoga position!

Getting Into The Pose

Usually, we are in a tabletop before being guided into a downward dog – if not that’s okay too! When you are instructed to get into downward dog send your hips up but instead of straightening your legs right away, keep them bent. This allows you to get the top half of your body in line first which is usually the part that tends to get forgotten about first.

While your legs are bent, really focus on bringing your shoulders down your spine, tucking your ribs in and engaging your arms for strength.

This part of the pose is very important but generally forgotten about.

Once you have gotten your top half in the pose properly then you can start to focus on straightening your legs.

When You’re There

Peddle It Out – this tends to be my favourite part of getting comfy in the pose. Put a slight bend in each leg while reaching the opposite heel down. I find that I get a great stretch through the back of my legs this way.

Bend Your Knees (Again) – only slightly this time though. I find my ankles usually pop when I do this.

Eyes of Your Elbows – Be sure to think about the insides of your elbows. Are they continually rolling in & facing each other? Try to keep thinking about rotating your biceps outwards.

Common Downward Dog Mistakes

Downward dog mistakesUnfortunately, there some common errors that are made when in this pose. While reading this, try to remember and keep it in mind when you go to yoga to try to adjust this.

I have noted earlier in this post that your heels will want to fall to the ground. I can honestly say that I am guilty of this as well but for a lot of new students the concentration goes to trying to get your heels to touch the ground. Honestly, this should be the last step of your focus.

When you try to push your heels to the ground you lose the wonderful form of the top half of your body and when you start out it is too much on your body right away. You just kind of have to accept that with time, practice and patience, your heels will meet the ground.

Even in my practice, there are some days when the back of my legs are so tight and I really can’t bring my heels to the ground. That is okay. Don’t lose the integrity of the pose just for your heels to touch the ground.

With that, another mistake is rounding your back and not keeping your shoulders back. This usually happens when you are focusing elsewhere. I notice it most when I am in a three-legged dog.

You really just have to constantly be thinking about sending your shoulders back and rolling in the eyes of your elbows.

Another common yoga mistake, which may happen in any pose is clenching the jaw or holding your breath.

Always be continually breathing into the sensations, I find a nice long exhale in a more challenging pose allows me to get more comfortable in the pose.

Try to not ever clench your jaw. I notice myself doing it too and really have to pay attention to not do it.


Thank you for taking the time to read all about the downward facing dog pose.

I hope that you are able to take away some advice and to continue working on and enjoying your dog.

Also, as promised, a link to my favourite site to get yoga classes! Yogadownload.com is so wonderful and has so many types of classes to offer. You can watch freebies – yes free, or start your subscription for only $1.00! There are a bunch of other links for you to explore including meditation, yoga styles and even yoga retreats that you can attend.

Cheers,

Kahlua

kgordin@thealldayyoga.com

 

It’s always good to get yourself some new gear too!

yoga pose downward dog

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11 Responses

  1. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this very informative article I have learned a lot about the downward facing dog pose and will be trying this.

    • admin says:

      Jennifer,

      That’s great, I am happy I was able to give you some tips about downward dog.

      Please, I would love to know how that works out for you.

      Kahlua

  2. I love this position. I don’t do Yoga, I do Crossfit and many times it’s a part of our warmup. I find it a great hamstring stretch and calf stretch when peddling it out.
    You’re right, you can make a lot of mistakes and I have made my share before understanding it. We usually start from a plank position.

    Great post.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment, Stewart!

      Yes, I have experienced downward dog in other forms of exercise too!

      Cheers,
      Kahlua

  3. Melissa says:

    Thanks for your tips here Kahlua. I also need to pay attention to not clench my jaw, so being more conscious of my breathing will hopefully help a bit here. I’m happy I found your site Kahlua, and I’ll be checking back often 🙂

    • admin says:

      Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for the comment and kind words, I appreciate it.

      Yes, really trying to focus on your breath helps to keep the clench down. It’s challenging to not do but hopefully with time you and I can get rid of this problem!

      Cheers,
      Kahlua

  4. Mariah says:

    Every time I try to do down dog, the tops of my calf muscles just feel so tight. I feel like I can barely straighten my legs at all. Any tips on how to stretch out ridiculously tight calf muscles? Unfortunately, I don’t do Yoga super often, so maybe the solution is just more frequent practice?

    • admin says:

      Hi Mariah,

      That sucks when that happens. Just try to keep breathing into your muscles and working them out. You don’t have to have your legs straight (FYI).

      It sounds like your calves are really tight and it may just be that you need time to work out the muscles.

      I would recommend forward folds, standing splits and standing poses to help work out those calves!

      Cheers & hope this helps,
      Kahlua

  5. Rani says:

    Dear Kahlua

    I want to thank you for this post, as it is going to help me so much more with my basic yoga I do at the moment. I will try this pose out and see how it goes for me.

    Rani

  6. Great article!!! I really enjoy reading it but I am not a fan of yoga but I will suggest my wife to read this she really like yoga I am very certain she will like this. keep with the good tip.

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